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Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Awesomeness of libraries

     I have been away from libraries for awhile. I had given my allegiance to bookstores, pouring hard-earned post-high school and college job dollars into books that I would keep, neglecting my local library, mostly because my local library hadn't been that great. But now the time has come to re-embrace libraries.
     I guess stubbornness kept me away, and the idea of building my own personal library. Visions of walnut shelves circling around a room pulled from my daydreams, and I needed something to store on those shelves, right? So I bought books. I bought and read, and bought and read some more. I wanted to hundreds, no thousands, no tens of thousands of books at my disposal, complete with a wooden reading stand with a large unabridged dictionary open on it, an antique leather chair, and a Victrola playing classical music, complete with its recording imperfections, in the background.
     Alas, such daydreams are hard to realize, and I've come to understand something fundamental. Books are heavy. I think I shall put aside my growing personal library just because of logistics until I have the actual room to fill them with.
     In the interim, I am rediscovering my local libraries, and tapping them for more than just books, but audio books, DVDs, a quiet work space, free wifi, and just the atmosphere of and presence of so many books. It's a fun rediscovery, and now that card catalogs have gone by the way side, it's a little more accessible to find things, especially as many of them have put their collections on the web. So, I and everyone should return to the sheer rudimentary pleasure that is the library. And now, I need to pick out my next audio books for my next road trip.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Writing Process

     I've been reading around the blogodrome (blogosophere sounds mundane, so I punched it up a little), and there are a number of authors, agents, and editors that talk about the writing process. This has gotten me to think about my own process. And after a deep (an inch or so), time-consuming (a few Hulu commercial breaks), introspection, I've come to the following conclusions about my writing process.
     I am so very different from other authors.
     I don't plan and plot things out meticulously. I don't work from a detailed outline. Most times I don't work from an outline. If I do come up with an outline, it's more of a mind map of things I want to remember to include than a complex timeline.
     Not only that, but I tend to write, well, oddly. For the most part I proceed chronologically, but there are times when I know there's a scene I want to write, so I write it up, and then gradually catch up to it. I often have no idea how much I need to write to catch up, just that I'll get there eventually. Which brings me to something else. I have no idea how long my books will be. I can't look at the beginning and say "this will be around 80,000 words" or "this one's gotta be around 120,000 words". I'm much more vague with declarations of "this is a long book." Even then I often change the length based on new ideas. Out of nowhere something else will come up, and I'll have to add it into the mix.
     I suppose the worst of it is that in writing mysteries (or at least urban fantasy with a heavy mystery element), I have no idea whodunit when I start writing. Oftentimes I don't know what twists and turns there will be. Nor do I even know the ending. I simply start with a premise, usually a "what if this happens," and proceed to use my characters to flesh it out. I try to stick to my characters and use their reactions to move the plot forward. I suppose that the more analytical types might call this "character-driven" but I call it storytelling. I don't really know how to tell a story any other way.
     I suppose I'm very disjointed compared to others, but it seems to work for me, and fortunately I've gotten some feedback that there are, at least a few, writers out there with the same (lack) of process that I have. I don't quite know how I made this process work for me. Maybe I'm a "seat of the pants" kind of writer, or perhaps I've written so many college essays that I have internalized certain organizational steps. Either way, I can say it works for me, and I enjoy the freedom it affords me (though I hate going back and adding something in that I think of late in the book).

The dust will fly

     Well, I'm back from the second of my road trips, though this one was certainly less enjoyable, for lack of a Round Rock Donut if nothing else. But now I have time to turn my gaze upon the better things in life, such as writing, writing, blogging, and writing. It's time for some changes 'round heah, so the dust will be flying. I'm not entirely sure what all changes will be happening, but I might stretch my legs into some html and css to prettify things up. So, stay tuned campers, it's construction time. Only those with hard hats (or heads) are allowed past the construction tape.
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